The Good Old Summertime – Outdoors In South Dakota
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
When I was a young boy, I couldn’t wait for summer. After nine months of school, June meant a break from studies and long, adventure-filled days outdoors in South Dakota.
Oh, sure, I still had work to do, just like most kids who grew up on the farms and in the small towns of South Dakota. I worked in the bean fields, did chores around the farm and helped in any other ways the family needed.
But when the work was done, I spent many warm, lazy days canoeing on the Big Sioux River, swimming and exploring the wooded areas along the river bottom. Summer also meant 4-H camp, a great opportunity to meet other young South Dakotans and share the activities and crafts of the 4-H program.
Once, on a family visit to the Black Hills, my sisters and I had the incredible experience of riding in a helicopter to view Mount Rushmore up close. I’ll never forget that, just as I’ll never forget the simpler times spent outdoors in our great state. I grew up with a respect and deep affection for South Dakota’s outdoors.
Many things have changed in South Dakota since I was a youngster, but the outdoor opportunities remain. In fact, opportunities have greatly expanded. People of all ages have more choices for outdoor activities today than we ever did when I was young. Think of all the bike paths in the communities, the swimming pools, the hiking adventures, the day camps and the summer recreation programs that invite boys and girls to get outside and get active.
More than that, think of all the facilities and recreation opportunities provided through the work of our Game, Fish and Parks Department. The department has upgraded and expanded trails, campgrounds, boating facilities and outdoor programs tremendously in recent years. If there’s something you want to do outdoors, Game, Fish and Parks probably has a program for you. Whether you want the experience of spending time in a modern campground or fishing pond, or you just want to take your son or daughter for a walk on a nature trail, you can do it here in South Dakota.
To recognize what an abundance of opportunities we all have in South Dakota, I recently declared June as “Great Outdoors Month.’’ It’s a way to encourage each of our citizens to connect or re-connect with nature in a safe and healthy way. It’s a celebration of the fun that’s to be had outdoors here in South Dakota.
And, if you wish, you can still take a helicopter ride to see Mount Rushmore up close the way I did as a youngster.
There’s a lot to do outdoors in South Dakota in the summer. Take advantage of the opportunities! Maybe we’ll meet along the trails.